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When do Cubs’ struggles become something to worry about? Now

When is Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein going to do something about the bullpen, including Trevor Cahill (above)? (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

How long are we going to pretend that things are just dandy with the Cubs? How long are we going to explain away a two-month stretch of blahness, which includes a two-week stretch of badness? How often are we going to trot out the defense that the Cubs went through the same kind of troubles last season on the way to 97 victories?

They just lost two of three to the Reds, who, until that series started, had been the answer to just about anybody’s slump. After starting the season 25-6, the Cubs have gone 27-26. They have lost 12 of their last 17 games. Against teams with winning records, well, you don’t want to know.

This isn’t the time to celebrate that the National League’s starting infield for the All-Star Game will be made up entirely of Cubs, nor is it the time to celebrate seven Cubs All-Stars. It’s the time to ask when president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is going to do something about his bullpen, which imploded Wednesday via Trevor Cahill. It’s the time to ask whether John Lackey’s 2.77 earned-run average last season with the Cardinals was a fluke. It’s time to ask where Joe Maddon’s magic act has gone.

That’s not panic. That’s questioning born of events. Those of you saying that all teams go through struggles are correct. But these are prolonged struggles, not brought on by injuries or youth but by decidedly uninspired play. The hitting has been average for a long time. Is it fair to expect Jake Arrieta to have anywhere close to the historic second half he had last season? No, it’s not

Who is going to make all the mediocrity go away?

The math says the club is on pace to win 100 games this season. The past two months are cackling at the math.

The Cubs have a makeup game against the lowly Braves on Thursday. Hey, you have to start somewhere.